Five years back when we moved into the house that we are presently occupying all was well in our neighborhood. There were happy families and playful kids, constant hustle bustle and the little housewives jealousies.
It was a simple lane where cars were parked haphazardly, bikes left unlocked overnight and festivals of all religions celebrated together. Sheer Kurma was distributed the first thing after Namaz on Id and Diwali celebrated communally.
And yes, cricket routinely started by 5 to go on upto late in the night with uncles joining in after work. It was a regular locality to live in and all was well.
It’s 3 yrs now when tragedy struck in 2 houses directly in front. In rapid succession 2 ladies who were very healthy, each having a school going kids were diagnosed with brain cancer in a span of 6 months. Both were operated and were put on the strenuous chemotherapy which rendered them lifeless. Complications followed and both were given a maximum of 3-4 months to live. The families were shattered and the kids were traumatized. It was one scary situation.
The first lady, the one directly opposite to our house, had two boys both who incidentally go to the same school as I did. Both were notorious and she was regularly had to run around a lot just to see the day off. She was fun-loving and very caring. My mom and she used to go to morning walks together and she was quite a master at cooking too. Her husband worked very hard and was a very nice man too. All in all a very loving and devout family that never missed a chance to pray for all the good things in life.
The second lady was some one who I knew not very much about but she had the same qualities as the first. She had 4 children, 1 girl and 3 sons. The boys were still in school and the girl was of my age. All I know about the lady is through her daughter who really broke down after the diagnosis. The husband never cared but the lady and the daughter were known to pray 5 times a day and never missed the special one on a Friday.
After the surgery both the ladies were bed-ridden and it fell to the families to take care of them.
The first lady was taken care of by her husband who left his job and gave the kids to his relatives to be with her day and night. I am the proof of his undying faith in miracles. There is probably not a god he did not pray to and not a religious shrine that he did not visit. He took her hand and made her walk the whole lane twice everyday. He fed her, hired a nanny for her needs even though he was in financial trouble. He smiled constantly and after the first horrible 6 months brought the kids home. He become the mother too and never left a chance to play cricket in the evenings. He was courageous and when the time she was said to be on her last breath, he never cried or lost hope. She became a vegetable for some months but he held on and prayed. He prayed like hell and then he prayed again. Finally when all the doctors left and gave her weeks to live, he decided to forget everything in the world. All he did was to stay right beside her and after the kids came back, they too just stay put at the bedside. When I saw her at that point of time, she was life less. Yet he smiled to her and spoke to her just as if he would with a normal person.
In the mean time the sons of the 2nd lady became vagabonds and got addicted to all the ills. They stole from what ever was left and turned into local goons. Her daughter loved the lady very much and she fought alone. She would sit hours by her side and keep her occupied. Their financial status was a mess and her husband moved out and shifted to an adjacent house because he could not take the stench of the medicines and her discharge. Bed-ridden she would wail out loud at times but all her daughter could do was to close the doors tighter. The daughter tried to continue her education but the financial pressure was too much on her. She took a job at a call center and tried to forget her pain for at least some hours a day. And that proved to be a costly mistake. She started getting carried away by the fantasies of an open world, a change from her very conservative upbringing. She started to enjoy herself and that lead to her neglecting her mother. I played a part in pushing her to get a job so that it would give her the much needed break but that proved to be a very costly mistake. The lady deteriorated and finally one day passed into coma. I still remember the night when well after mid-night, the daughter called and we rushed her mother to the hospital to discover to our horror that a part of her leg was completely eaten away by a virus. The hospital refused to take her in because there was nothing much they could do.
An year back, the first lady started recovering. She began to talk and laugh. She started to recognize her kids and began to walk again. She was off all medications and her family was her healing. The boys would stay with her all morning and evening and the husband would talk to her all afternoon. She was brought out every evening and made to watch the daily game of cricket. She soon started to move on her own and started to look like her old self. The husband was rewarded for his love and faith and he only prayed harder. The family was getting back to its feet and a miracle was truly on.
During the same period the 2nd lady became completely worse. She could not eat nor breath on her own. Her boys shifted her to an inside, airless room and began to make the house a regular joint for all the vagabonds of the area. The daughter’s nights grew longer and she finally seemed to have given up. At that time, I rarely saw her and when I did, it was only when she got into her office cab in the evenings. The husband became a parasite on the wife’s family and his health started deteriorating too. The coffin was just around the corner.
And it happened. A fine winter morning, the tents were pitched and the road cleaned. The mother of 4 children passed away in her sleep and it was discovered only late next day because that was the way she had been for quite sometime. The funeral was small and the kids back to their vocations in a day. The family split up with the daughter now doing extra-long shifts just to keep herself away from the house. The last time I saw her was not near my residence but in the dead of the night outside a popular joint.
Death does things to people that would otherwise not be possible. Death also does things that humans cannot recover from and the freight express will just roll down without a link. But the truth of death calling is what creates the most impact. It takes away the curtain of fiction from our lives and brightens the truth about it. It does affect people in a way that eternally makes them minuscule replications of their hitherto scare free lives. It helps people realize their insignificance and that truth is incomprehensible.
The first lady survived till date. I just pray that she will for a long time. The reason that I am writing this is because for the last four days that I have been home thanks to the long weekend, I have seen the husband take his love out every morning and night for long walks hand in hand in complete solitude. She would wobble time and again and he would be there for her. He would stop to introduce her to every passing person, some whom she meets everyday but does not remember. Some get fed up and ignore her but he just smiles and tells her tales about them. It seems that the whether has not been too kind towards her and that she is suffering from one of those bouts of seasonal flu which is a thousand times worst for her given her condition. 3/4ths of her brain is dead and she will live – as long as she does – with just her vital functions working at 10% of normal.
The husband will never give up and I know that for a fact. He will be with her to the end he will mourn her the most. But to that day he will carry her with him, with complete love and affection, unparalleled to what I have ever seen.